As you probably already know, I work in a classroom with 4 students. These 4 boys have autism. This is my first year working with them, and I love it. But what I'm about to write about, although it was inspired by them, applies to each of us, in every relationship we have.
You know that Winnie-the-Pooh quote, where Piglet asks him how to spell 'love' and he replies that 'You don't spell love, you feel it'? Well, I would take that to another level. It is really important to many people, including myself, that I hear the words "I love you" on occasion from the people who are closest to me. It really can help me through the day, and I think you will all admit to the same need or want. But here's the thought that I would like to suggest: We don't say 'I love you', we show it.
You may not know much about autism, or you may know alot, but this is one basic understanding for you: They do not show appropriately show emotions. Which means, unless you have trained them to say it, you'll never hear the words "I love you" from them. When you do, it usually means nothing (except, perhaps, 'give me an M&M'). So, working with these students has been one HUGE lesson in depending on Christ for my intake of love. I wrote about it here. But I've realized recently that they do, in fact, express affection.
They may never say it out loud, or decide independently to give you a hug, hold your hand, or bring you flowers like typical 2nd grader. But if you open your eyes, and open your heart, you'll see it. That moment when he reaches up and rubs one of your curls between his fingers until it frizzes and knots. That moment when he unties your shoes, steals your water bottle, or closes the book you opened, just because it makes you look at him. That moment when he panics because you walked away when he wasn't paying attention, and he looks around frantically for you. That moment when he remembers your name, and adds "Miss" to the "Cortney" because he wants you to give him a piggy back ride (and somehow figured out you like it when he says that). That moment when he is listening to a story and takes your hand.... and picks off your fingernail polish. These are the moments that he SHOWS how he knows you, needs you, even loves you.
But look at your life. Who is it that you wish would say it more often? Your husband? Your wife? Your teenager? Your temperamental 3yr old? Your grandparents? Your parents?
I dare you to stop and open your heart.
They know you. They need you. They love you. Their life will SHOW it, even when they don't say it.
Let us also endeavor to intentionally show our love for those around us. Hear what scripture says, about our relationships in the light of the Gospel.
Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.